You don't want to make love like that...

John Walsh on Monday

ANDREW DAVIES, the snow-haired doyen of TV adaptations, once explained why he'd waited so long (he was then 53) to publish his first novel, Getting Hurt; it was a morbid fear of reviewers laughing at the sex scenes and saying, "So that's how he thinks it's done...".

How many of us have not woken at 3am and lay fiddling with the ticking on the counterpane beside our snoring spouses as we wonder if, for years and years, we've been Doing It All Wrong? Could it be that years of trial and error, hours of furtive glances at bookshop sex manuals, decades of knowing laughter at risque jokes about frottage and fellatio have left us still on the nursery slopes of sack-artistry? And how awful would it be to have your shortcomings displayed on a Shepperton sound stage, while a pop-eyed, bearded recluse shouts "Cut!" through a megaphone?

So only a heartless swine could not sympathise with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. This most glamorous of filmic couples are heading for the courts again, this time against an American magazine called The Star, who floated the wild allegation that Stanley Kubrick, the late film director, had to call in the professional services of a British husband-and-wife sex- therapist team, called Tony and Wendy Duffield, to coach the Titian-haired Oz dreamboat and her handsome spouse in how to make love convincingly on the sweat-drenched set of Kubrick's last completed movie, Eyes Wide Shut. I can't comment on the ins and outs of the case (if that's the phrase I'm groping for), but the surreal quality of this scenario appeals to the prurient in everyone.

But if you were concerned about your actors' verisimilitude, would the Duffields really be the perfect consultants to call in? They are not your run-of-the-mill sex therapists. Tony once stuck a teensy camera on the end of his membrum virile to film the invasion of Wendy's nether bits for a 1994 television documentary called The Naked Animal, in which they were filmed having sex three times a day for three weeks. (What did they talk about in between? Ointment?).

These guys are awesome in their singlemindedness. Their attitude to copulation is on a par with people who practise the cello for 14 hours a day, or get in The Guinness Book of Records for eating 92 packets of Jacobs Cream Crackers in a weekend. Just imagine the dialogue on set:

Tony: "Tom. Tom... What are you doing?"

Tom: "I was, uh, kissing her neck."

Tony: "That was hopeless. You should be squeezing the left breast with the right hand while inserting the tongue in the left ear..."

Tom: "Yeah, right, maybe in a minute or two -"

Tony: "... while simultaneously snaking your left hand across her stomach with a driving, downward motion..."

Tom: "But she has this pretty neck. I like kissing it."

Tony: (contemptuous laugh) "Necks are all very well, but there's nothing to get into. Try it again. Neck, five seconds, ear, ten seconds, squeeze breast, ten seconds, tweak nipple with thumb and index finger, say fifteen seconds max. Other hand on waistband of knickers, the middle finger..."

Nicole: "Wait a minute. I like Tom doing that to my neck. Sweetie, maybe if you wound your hand in my hair? You know how I love that."

Kubrick: "Could we get on with it, please?"

Wendy: "Nicole, if you could clamp your left hand on to Tom's groin and sort of jiggle it up and down, while simultaneously throwing your head back and shouting "Yes! Yes! Take me, Big Boy..."

Nicole: "That's not really a phrase in my vocabulary."

Wendy (irritably): "This is passion, darling. As his hand moves over your thigh, your body arches convulsively like a tigress in heat, you shake with anticipation, your hair lashes the bedpost, you cry out `Oh my Gaaahhrrd'...."

Nicole: "I, uh, don't see it in the script."

Wendy: "Forget the script, sweetheart. This is realism."


I HAVE lately become alarmingly fixated on fish. Possibly under the thrall of Charlie Dimmock, my gardener, Alexis, a youth of Albert Speer- like ambitions, has built a brick Water Feature in the, ahem, sylvan glade that is our back garden.

It's made of bricks, is round and graceful and cries out for piscine inhabitants - some snub-nosed, tawny-skinned creatures which would "slant their fins athwart the sun" as dear Wally de la Mare once had it.

At the garden centre, there were goldfish and koi carp and guppies - and some ghost carp in glowing, luminous shades of yellow and silver.

"I'll take half a dozen of those, please," I said to the man, like one buying whitebait. "What kind of pond you got?" he asked. The kind with water in it, I said. "That all?" he said. "No pump?"

I don't need a pump. I said. This is a pond, not an aquarium.

"You're gonna need a pump," he said. "Otherwise the waste builds up the nitrate levels and the fish die. Got any oxygenating weeds?"

Er, no. "You'll need some of that. And some porous clay pebbles. The fish pellets are over there, pounds 9.80 special offer. And I would suggest a sub-aqual lily..."

Why stop there? I asked sarcastically. Perhaps I could buy them a fish living room, with fish sofas, a fish standard lamp and a fish TV.

"Got a heron scarer?" he asked.

My dear chap, I said, a heron hasn't been sighted in Dulwich since the late Fifties. "They're buggers for eating pondlife. Swoop down out of nowhere. How about this one? It's pounds 199.98. Squirts water..."

Thousands of pounds later, I'm now the proud owner of a water feature with lots of green floating weed, several bubbles and four completely invisible fish in it.

The heron scarer, on the other hand, can be seen for miles around. No heron has come near the garden. It obviously works.


HERE WE go again. Are song lyrics poetry? Is Bob Keats better than Johnny Dylan? Is Yeats's line "How can we tell the dancer from the dance?" better or worse than Freddie Mercury's "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?" The people in charge of the National Year of Reading have dedicated this month to finding out how sensitive we are to the meaning, the import, the awful majesty of pop lyrics. They asked a thousand record- buyers to nominate which bands and singers do the best words. The Beatles came out on top, followed by Abba, those giants of complex and articulate passion, but only 10 per centthought Bob Dylan could string together an effective sentiment.

"This survey shows just how much people really enjoy reading and understanding good lyrics," said Liz Attenborough, the NYR's project director, desperately looking for a point to this exercise. "There are some truly inspiring lyrics ... they can quite justifiably be described as modern poetry."

Well yes and no, Liz. I could not, with any confidence, direct my children to most modern waxings as examples of superior poetry, for fear they should encounter an Oasis song called "She's Electric" which contains the stanza: "She's got a sister / And I can't say that I've missed her / On the palm of her hand is a blister..."; or the lovely Des'ree and her by-no-means- pedestrian rhyme scheme on "Life": "I don't want to see a ghost / It's the sight that I fear most / I'd rather have a piece of toast..." (there's no mention of the Sunday roast or the Morning Post; but I'm sure they featured in early drafts); or the Limerick band The Cranberries who sing, on their new CD, "People are strange / People in danger / People are stranger / People deranged are ..."

I could, on the other hand, direct them to the lyrics of Tom Waits, the growly Beat throwback whose terrific new CD, Mule Variations, features one of his femmes fatales: "My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / like a moth mistakes a light bulb / for the moon and goes to hell". But where, I wondered, does Salman Rushdie stand on the lyrics/poetry front? A writer incontrovertibly of the premier league, he's only published one poem (in Granta) but has written a vast hymn to rock'n'roll, in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, that includes the song lyrics of one Ormus Cama. They're not exactly William Blake ("I think you'll find / We're trapped in someone else's mind") but they're okay. How seriously does Rushdie take them? Brilliantly, he has it both ways. Rai, his narrator, looks at the lyrics of "Song of Everything" and says: "Which some British professor calls poetry... to me, set down on the page without their music, they seem spavined, even hamstrung."

Thus Rushdie writes lyrics which, Rai decides, are rather weak without the music, though of course, being fictional lyrics, they have no music, so in that sense they're lyric poetry... Things were a lot easier in the days before Christopher Ricks, when you could just hum "Mr Tambourine Man" without wondering if there were allusions to Browning in it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

    vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

    Nursery Manager

    £100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

    Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

    £24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes